Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Another year, another landmark

My SD turned 11 last week. She's turning into a little lady before our very eyes!

And I'm happy to say that things there are on the up. It seems that SD is getting a little fed up of the BM's anti-Dad and Wicked Steppie campaign - it's getting a bit old now, she's kept it up for 2 months. So I can start to see my relationship with SD improving, little by little. She asked me if I'd take her to the hairdresser to have her hair done nice at some point. This was after I'd come back from the new salon I've tried after mine closed down, with THE most fab haircut ever - genius extremely camp hair-man managed to tame my thick mad hair into a funky edgy bob. BM cuts SD's hair, and more often than not, doesn't do it very evenly, so she's asked if I'll take her to have hers cut properly.

Now this is a difficult one. SD is growing up fast, and rapidly becoming interested in beauty related stuff - she's got more Impulse sprays than there are days of the week, she's always wanting me to paint her nails, and asking me for advice on what outfits she's wearing. BM isn't really into this sort of stuff, she's gay - not that being gay precludes an interest in nail polish, but BM's just not into girly grooming. I wouldn't have said I'm especially girly or high maintenance but I do like to look well turned out. However, I'm a little bothered that taking SD to the hairdresser might provoke World War Three.

DP is fine with it. He thinks it is another life skill SD will need to learn eventually so she might as well start getting experience now of going to the hairdresser, telling them what she wants, having her hair washed and dried all nice will be a nice experience for her. She only wants a trim, she is very proud of her long blonde hair so we wouldn't be doing anything drastic, no funky edgy bobs or coloured hair dye, just getting it even, getting rid of the split ends and she can have it styled nicely. But, I'm still worried BM is going to go mental and that I'll be guilty of serious overstepping of her motherly boundaries. I do try and respect that while I'm fond of SD and want the best for her, I am not her parent, and don't try and do "parental" things like parents evenings or medical appointments. But hairdressing is less clear, especially as now SD is suddenly turning pre-teen with a vengeance, she needs a female role model to teach her about that stuff, and BM doesn't seem to be doing it - as DP said, I'm filling the gap in the market right now! But - does that mean we should let her go have her hair done even when BM has said no and prefers to do it herself (no doubt a cost saving exercise, child's haircut or a pack of fags and a six pack of Stella, hmmm tough choice). We had a big hoo-haa last year about SD's Christmas play at school, BM wanted SD back on Sunday night so she could do her hair for the play, as she thought it was unacceptable that I performed that task. Like many other things in split families, even something as innocuous as a hairdo can easily become a stepfamily West Bank.

Well, I've done the Steppie's Cop-Out and left it in DP's hands. As far as I'm concerned, he's the parent, he makes the decision and he takes any flak for the decision he makes. I'm happy that SD has come to me and wants to do this, but DP has got to decide whether getting rid of a few split ends are worth the potential row.


  1. I think you should do it... just because you take her for a hair cut doesn't mean you are taking over as her "mom." You need to find your own things to do to bond with you SD and if its "beauty stuff" then go for it. And I don't see what the problem is as long as you guys are paying for it. Of course I understand how insane BM's can be, but you can't live your life in fear.

    We went through the same thing, and basically told BM if she wanted to get the kid's hair cut fine, but if he came to our house and we thought his hair was too shaggy we were paying to get it cut.

  2. We've gone through this too and I don't understand why a haircut is so loaded... on the other hand, BM never consults my husband if she wants to take the kids and get their hair cut.

  3. I hope you do get to take her to the salon. That would be such a nice bonding experience for the two of you. Hair grows out, it's not like you would be dying it black or pink. I agree that it would be a good experience for her to learn to express what she wants to the stylist, assert her style and make her own decisions. Good luck. I hope it goes well. - G

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  5. I can totally empathise with this scenario. Our BM would also be the sort of person to go bonkers over a little thing like organising a trim. She once went totally ape-shit when DH picked up SS from school rather than her house. I can only imagine she’d told the school some sort of lie that DH was dead, in prison or AWOL. She sees that sort of thing as an imposition on her assumed role as President Parent, Chief in command and would be tempted to issue a death threat, particularly if she thought I was ‘behind’ any of it.

    However, that said, you can’t live your life according to what BM wants or in fear of how she might react. The best principle is probably to go by what’s in the child’s best interests? Indeed, sometimes keeping the peace is in the child’s best interest, but only sometimes, otherwise they might buy into the idea that their Dad somehow IS a ‘silent partner’ secondary to BM – even if that BM is completely blind sighted. Moreover, like you say, having a trim, bonding with a step-parent, doing girly things she enjoys, having her dad take active care for her is also good for SD and you can’t protect her from her mother’s wrath forever. It may well be worth thinking carefully about how you ‘market’ the trim with BM – perhaps DH should tell her in advance? Or tell her before he drops SD off? Or simply play it down and say nothing - depending how your BM is best managed. But I agree this is for DH to take (flack) responsibility for.

    In essence I have to agree with Thatcher on this one. No negotiation with terrorists.

  6. hmmm, I'm not sure I agree with you guys. No doubt Wicked has the moral high ground here, but in any war, and it SOUNDS like a war is going on, one has to choose one's battles.

    I'd say - no. Considering some of the other stuff that's going on, and at THIS particular time, with SD only just getting to grow tired of the psy-warfare... I'd say stick to the nail polish and regular baths, maybe even teach her to do some interesting dos - but is a hair cut worth a third world war? Even if you ARE right?

    I don't see it as giving into terrorists either - I see it as hedging my beds and keeping the big ships for the big battle!

  7. I think we should get this in perspective. It's a TRIM and I don't think a parent taking a child for a trim is the starting of world war three..

    It's not about being right for the sake of it, but doing what's best for the children - and trying to be as normal as possible.

    Yes, sometimes it is worthwhile hedging your bets or biting your tounge - but equally sometimes it may not. I don't think it's a great idea to be constantly 'reacting' to an psychotic BM. A father should also have the right to make simple decisions and follow them through - like taking a child for a hair cut or registering them with a library or youth group without fretting.

  8. It's sad that something so innocuous can be so fraught with drama. I hope DP decides to do it because SD should be able to get a real haircut if you guys are willing to pay for it if her mom won't pay for it.

  9. Dear Wicked Steppie,

    First, I want to applaud you on your contributions to the Stepmom community. As a husband with children from a previous marriage, I know first-hand the sacrifices you make in the name of love.

    A nationally-published and award-winning essayist, I captured my experiences as a divorced and remarried dad in a funny and critically-acclaimed book, "The 40-Year-Old Version: Humoirs of a Divorced Dad," which was released this year.

    To my delight, the book has been extremely well received by stepmother writers and bloggers including Izzy Rose, Wednesday Martin, Jennifer Newcomb Marine, and Jacqueline Fletcher. Many consider it an entertaining and uniquely meaningful holiday gift for a remarried dad.

    Given the holiday season, would you be interested in reviewing the book or posting a sample chapter on your site? I think your audience in particular would enjoy it.

    I invite you to learn more about and see strong reviews for "The 40-Year-Old Version" at www.divorceddadbook.com. I’m pasting some of those reviews below.

    My personal essays have been published in The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, New Jersey Monthly, The Star Ledger, The New York Daily News, The New York Post, Babble.com, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and many regional parenting magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada.

    Thanks for your consideration, and Happy Holidays!

    Joel Schwartzberg

    Reviews of "The 40-Year-Old Version: Humoirs of a Divorced Dad"

    "As a woman who’s married to a divorced man with kids, Joel’s vulnerable wisdom hit a raw nerve...I applaud [his] courage to put his insecurities on the table, not only because it’s admirable, but because his candor is so damn funny."
    - Izzy Rose, author of The Package Deal: My (Not-So) Glamorous Transition from Single Gal to Instant Mom

    "The essays in this memoir are sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, sometimes absolutely heartbreaking...I love how the book shows his feelings for his kids and documents those little awkward moments that come with life after a divorce."
    - Jacquelyn B. Fletcher, author of A Career Girl’s Guide to Becoming a Stepmom

    "A captivating, humorous, insightful book offering wise, hard-earned guidance for divorced dads, this is the perfect gift for men who are co-parenting with their ex-wives."
    - Dr. Linda Nielsen, President of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children and author of Between Fathers & Daughters

    "I couldn't have bought a better present for my hubby, a Divorced Dad. We love reading it together, laughing and crying as we turn the pages of the short stories (most only 2-3 pages long) that speak VOLUMES to us as readers in a blended family. I HIGHLY recommend ALL Divorced and Separated Dads buy this book, or all Stepmoms and other family members and friends who know a Divorced/Separated Dad to buy them this book as a special gift that will be sure to uplift him in a very difficult time. No one feels alone after reading this book!"
    - Enlightened Stepmom’s Group, Atlanta, Georgia

  10. Hello. I'm new about these parts, and I am still reading your older posts to get a feel of the situ you are in.
    Opting out of not making a parental decision for your SD isn't a 'cop-out', so try not to feel bad. And hair cutting is a parental decision. As your SD has both a mum and a dad, it's up to them to do it. So if BM wont take her, then dad needs to. She is after all 11 and the other kids will begin to notice these things. Pride in ones appearance also needs to be encouraged, lest she start to not care herself, and goes downhill in other hygiene areas.
    So, how about all three of you go, with you coaching her dad beforehand on how to deal with the hairdresser, so you can mostly take a back seat? You'll be there to prevent any disasters, but it will be dad who took her, and SD gets the haircut she's entitled to.